Variety seeking behaviour and sensory specific satiety

LL Wilkinson, JM Brunstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


Exploratory behaviour is a primary reinforcer in animals and humans. In humans, ‘variety seeking’ is evident in numerous contexts including purchasing behaviour. During product selection, variety increases consumers’ satisfaction. Additionally, the mere knowledge of another (unavailable) set of products tends to decrease satisfaction with a selected product. Parallels can be drawn between these findings and the literature on sensory specific satiety (SSS). Studies of SSS involve participants rating a set of taster foods and then eating one of these foods (determined by the experimenter) until satiated. The taster foods can be regarded as ‘unavailable variety’; this may help to promote the decrease in pleasantness of the eaten food. This idea was explored by comparing perceived pleasantness in a ‘no variety’ (eaten food presented alone), ‘unavailable variety’ and ‘available variety’ (allowed to switch to a ‘taster’ food) condition. Participants’ (N = 60) ratings of food pleasantness and ‘desire to eat’ were assessed at baseline, during (2 min) and after the meal. Consistent with the SSS literature, a decrease in desire to eat and pleasantness of the eaten food was observed across conditions. However, the decrease in ratings was larger in the unavailable variety condition. Although the pattern of results shows the hypothesised trend, this difference failed to reach significance. This may be because the verbal command given to indicate whether variety was available or unavailable may not have been potent enough. This prospect merits further investigation as it challenges our basic understanding of SSS.
Translated title of the contributionVariety seeking behaviour and sensory specific satiety
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170 - 170
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

Bibliographical note

Name and Venue of Conference: British Feeding and Drinking Group, University of Swansea


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